There’s no doubt you love your child and are proud of him in many ways. But do you say it often enough and with variety? Children need praise to build their self-esteem and self-confidence. Constantly saying “good job” can get monotonous and lose meaning to your child after awhile. There are many ways to express a similar sentiment without using the same phrase over and over again. Remember, while you’re laying a foundation of confidence, you also don’t want to over-inflate your child’s ego. There’s a delicate balance to praise.
Even if you have an infant now, you’ll want to get into the practice of diversifying your praise. Form the habit now and carry it through to when your baby will eventually understand and internalize your praise. We’ve compiled 20 productive ways to praise your child:
You are special – Letting your child know that he is special ensures he feels unique and different, as indeed he is. Special is a magical word to children and is definitely a separate positive designation than just a plain on “good job.”
- I like the way you ___ – This specifically lets your child know what he did right. All too often we scold our children and tell them what they are doing wrong. “No, we don’t hit.” “No, that’s not for you.” Turn the tables and let your little one know how and when he is exhibiting good behavior.
- I’m so lucky to be your mom – This tells your child that although you didn’t exactly pick one other, you are happy that you get to be together as mother and child.
- I’m proud of you – If disappointment is worse than anger, pride is better than happiness to your child. Toddlers, especially, are people-pleasers so they want you to be proud of them. When your child can respond to you, ask him if he’s proud of himself. Self-pride is another great way to boost self-esteem.
- I believe in you – Kids are often quick to say “I can’t.” Letting your tot know you have faith in him may just give him the lift he needs to keep trying or to do a better job next time.
- Good thinking – Many times when you say “good job” it’s really because your child thought through something and made good choices. By identifying that your child had good thoughts, you’re pinpointing and encouraging his thought processes.
- You brighten my day – You may not realize it all the time but kids want to be helpful. Knowing that something they did made you feel good goes into the category of helping you.
- I knew you could do it – Much like “I believe in you,” this shows your child you have the upmost trust in him and his ability to perform a task.
- Great discovery – Being an explorer of the world is not only fun, it’s actually your child’s job right now. So making a “discovery” is the ultimate reward for your young explorer.
- I appreciate it when you ___ – Treating your child with respect is essential to raising a courteous and grateful human being. Using words like “thank you” and “appreciate” helps your child make these good manners connections at his level.
- Good work, squirt – Sometimes being silly is a great way to help boost your child’s confidence, and make him laugh too. Any fun term of endearment will do – we just find this one whimsical and easy to say.
- You’re so smart – Being smart is one of the most important qualities you’ll want for your child. To bolster your child’s idea that being smart is “cool,” tell him specifically when he’s being smart.
- Better than I could do – Kids certainly love a little friendly competition. As they enter toddlerhood, they’ll want to show you how they can run faster, jump further or draw better than you. Healthy competition breeds ambition so use this phrase to let your tot know he’s really on top of it.
- You’re a superstar – Who wouldn’t want to be a superstar? And if not a superstar, a rock-star, a princess-star, or a pirate-star. Use whatever kind of “star” floats your baby’s boat.
- What an imagination – Imaginary play is a great sign of creativity and intelligence. Teach your little one what “imagination” is by identifying it for him when he’s using it. Promoting imaginary play can lead you to all sorts of amazing discoveries and learning paths for your child.
- You’re a joy – Make sure your baby knows he’s a pleasure to be around and not an obligation. Joy is another way to say happy, thrilled or delighted – all things you should be feeling around your child.
- You are one in a million – Much like being “special,” this catch phrase helps your child feel uniquely exceptional and extraordinary. And isn’t he?
- How clever – Being clever is like being smart and witty all in one. That’s hard to beat! Plus, clever is a common trait of characters in many children’s stories so you can find many examples to point out to your child in literature.
- Good following directions – Listening is great, but following directions is the most basic skill your tot needs to learn, especially at school. Definitely find moments to praise your child for this vital ability.
- You worked it out on your own – As your child asserts independence, he’ll want to feel good about doing things on his own. Make a big deal about doing activities that once required your help but now can be done “all by myself.”
It’s really not difficult to find ways to praise your child with enthusiasm and variety. Take advantage of this opportunity from a young age to build self-confidence and make your child feel loved and special.